Keeping up without getting overwhelmed!
At The Coffeelicious, Mirah Curzer has a lovely article called How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind, which has great recommendations for how to keep from getting overwhelmed, but still keep engaged. Among them:
Don't immerse yourself in the issues so thoroughly that you can't get out. You need to give yourself a break, and NOT feel guilty about it.
Focus on just a couple of issues. Give your energy to what is most meaningful to you. There's lots to be done, and happily, lots of us to do it.
Make your activism fun. What's happening is serious, but you don't have to be grim because of it.
Take care of yourself.
Use tools that make it easy to engage like these recommendations from https://coolmomtech.com/
Try an app like Countable that you can customize to follow your issues and send you alerts when legislation you are interested in is acted on.
"Get clear, concise summaries of bills going through Congress, see what others think, then take action. Telling your reps how you feel is easier than ever with email and now video messages. Make your democracy more responsive."
Resistbot isn't even an app, you use the text function of your phone to send faxes or letters to your Congresspeople. It will also find town halls in your area.
"Text RESIST to Resistbot on Telegram, Messenger, or to 50409 on SMS and I’ll find out who represents you in Congress, and deliver your message to them in under 2 minutes. No downloads or apps required."
Make a phone call
I hate making phone calls. Calling legislators is, consequently, far down my list of things to do, below washing the dog. So I make it as easy as possible to do it and get it over with. Here's what you need to know:
Your legislators work for YOU. Sometimes it doesn't feel like it, and sometimes they seem to have forgotten it, but it's true. Take YOURSELF seriously and tell them what you think is important.
All you really need to say is this:
"Hi! My name is ______________, I live in ___________, Illinois, and I am calling to urge Representative/ Senator/ Councilmember/ President _________________ to support/oppose _______________."
You can give the name or number of the bill (ex. "The Violence Against Women Act", or "HR 1585").
You can give a reason if you want to, but on the other end of the line the staffer who answers the phone needs to know (1) that you are one of the legislator's constituents, and (2) what you want them to do. They may ask for your ZIP code in order to confirm what part of their area you live in.
"5 Calls will provide the phone numbers and scripts for you — great for those of you who aren’t “phone people” — and a background on the issues so you can get a little more info on them if you need. It also takes a page from phone banking programs, allowing you track whether you spoke with someone in person, left a message, or couldn’t get through, so you can try again later if you’re inclined."
Get to know your legislators
These people make decisions about YOUR LIFE every day. Happily, it's pretty easy to find out who they are and where they stand on issues.
Vote Smart is one easy way to do this: https://votesmart.org Vote Smart maintains info on the people in office from the President to your local alderman. Just put your ZIP code in to find them.
HeadCount's Ballot Ready uses your address to tell you who and what is on your ballot, again, down to local elections.
Go to the source
Sign up for Congress.gov to search particular information (bills, representatives, committees, etc.), and get alerts when there is movement on legislation you are interested in. Track members and legislation by using their alert system.
Enroll with just your email address and a password at www.congress.gov
Try it! Look up the VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2019 (aka HR1585), sign up for alerts, and check to see if your congresspeople are co-sponsors
https://www.congress.gov/help/tips/managing-alerts for more details on how to set alerts.
Or better yet, check out the webinar for how to use it! (Thanks, Elizabeth!)
And in Illinois: ilga.gov
Sign up at ilga.gov for alerts and to respond quickly when legislation of interest is being considered. Fill out your profile and set a password. When you are signed up you can submit your support or disapproval of an action without having to re-type all of your information every time.
My Legislation: make a quick list of the legislation you are interested in & get info about it.
Witness Slips: submitting a witness slip is how you register your support or opposition to a piece of legislation. If you don't have a direct link, you can search for it by number or keyword.
If you are an individual and you will not be going to the committee meeting where it is being discussed, this is what you want to do:
1. Once you have your personal info in there, put "Self" under "Representation."
2. Select "Position" as "Proponent" or "Opponent". Double check to make sure you clicked the correct box!
3. Under "Testimony" select "Record of Appearance Only."
4. Agree to the "Terms of Agreement" and click on the "Create(Slip)" button.